Beware the Efficient Vacuum Cleaner and Those Who Think It Solves Life’s Problems

By Patrick McNerthney

Unfortunately scientists have invented highly portable, ergonomically beneficial vacuum cleaners that don’t take up much space and run on battery power. So if you live with someone who’s obsessed with cleanliness, efficiency, and perfection, these nightmares of modern technology will come to life at any given moment, and the next thing you know, you’re exercising (continuous leg lifts) while watching TV, eating a bowl of cereal…or (even worse) literally jumping out of the way as soon as you walk in the front door, laden with grocery bags.


All of this is well and good for the unnamed person I live with; She Who Lords Over Our Household (SWLOOH). And admittedly, everything around here always looks nice despite my slovenly behavior and general “Ah, I’ll get to that peanut butter I smeared all over the cupboards while making breakfast this morning later” attitude. 

But when it comes to organizations, being obsessed with the efficiency part is a bad thing. (I don’t have a problem with organizational cleanliness. And as far as “perfection” goes, I’m cool with it if it’s understood to be a never-ending journey to make things better for others.When it comes to efficiency, the “people in charge” often want to make sure every resource is utilized to its fullest capacity. Which means the regular folk doing the work (that would be you and me) feel like they need to be sprinting around every minute of the day doing something. So they schedule every minute of their day, take pride in skipping breaks and working through lunch, and trying to avoid distraction at all costs. They lather, rinse, and repeat this process Monday through Friday. And then atomically collapse on the weekend.

(Gotta keep working while we wait for our wish-it-was-faster food!)

However, this obsession—and the behavior it inspires—fails to recognize that efficiency and effectiveness are not the same things. And figuring out how to make something effective requires what many of us worker-types dread—ignoring the boss, and PLANNING AHEAD. 

It’s way easier to just show up at work, do what we’re told, run around being highly efficient, then go home thinking, “Wow, busy day! But I did get all my stuff done.” 

It’s WAY harder to hit the pause button and ask, “What’s this work I’m doing FOR in the first place? What’s the most important thing here? And what do I need to do to make that happen? Certainly not run around looking all crazy, just to please the boss…” 


The happiest people I know follow a routine where first thing in the morning they plan for the day ahead NOT based on scheduling every minute to ensure busy-ness, but rather to ensure the most important projects get the time they need. 

And they don’t negotiate with themselves—or the boss—because all of these projects are focused on delivering results. 

So as a caregiver for your residents and loved ones, one of the most valuable skills you can adopt is taking the hard step of planning HOW the most important work will get done, instead of chasing what looks like efficiency. You can do this whenever you see fit—it could be first thing in the morning, at lunch, or the night before. But the point is, deciding what’s most important, then doing the necessary planning to ensure it happens—especially when you don’t feel like it—is the best way to help vulnerable populations suffering from anxiety and depression due to social isolation. 

Can Fine Art Miracles (FAM) help you with this? YES. They’ve found that Art Therapy, Music Therapy, Dance and Movement Therapy, Multi-Sensory Sessions, ART2GO Packages, connect the elderly, children with challenges, and anyone who needs assistance with daily life with what’s most important:

  • Confidence
  • Self-worth
  • A sense of mastery
  • Joy 
  • Connection with you, each other, and the “outside” world

In other words, FAM can help you be effective by utilizing creative expression to deliver results. They can even chat with you about the planning part, both how to get started, and what incorporating a few of their services would look like. Reach out to FAM today to learn more. They’re here to help! 

During the time it took to write this, SWLOOH (She Who Lords Over Our Household, if you forgot) used that dreaded vacuum to spruce things up, made breakfast, cleaned the bathroom, and got herself ready for this fun weekend day. Pretty impressive. Although it looks like she left the peanut butter clean up for me, so I better hop to it. But at least I just got done what’s most important! (Don’t tell SWLOOH I said that…)

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